The Fairest of Them All: A Novel
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What if Rapunzel was Snow White’s evil stepmother?
In this kingdom, only one fairy tale can end with happily ever after.
In an enchanted forest, the maiden Rapunzel’s beautiful voice captivates a young prince hunting nearby. Overcome, he climbs her long golden hair to her tower and they spend an afternoon of passion together, but by nightfall the prince must return to his kingdom, and his betrothed.
Now king, he weds his intended and the kingdom rejoices when a daughter named Snow White is born. Beyond the castle walls, Rapunzel waits in her crumbling tower, gathering news of her beloved from those who come to her seeking wisdom. She tries to mend her broken heart but her love lingers, pulsing in the magic tendrils of her hair.
The king, too, is haunted by his memories, but after his queen’s mysterious death, he is finally able to follow his heart into the darkness of the forest. But can Rapunzel trade the shadows of the forest for the castle and be the innocent beauty he remembers?
sitting, and wrap around me like a quilt. “It’s the new queen!” I heard, and I swear I wondered where she was, this queen. I almost peered out to look for her before I remembered that it was me. Chapter Eight The castle loomed in front of us. The spires reached up into the sky, thinner and taller than they’d seemed from the forest, and I craned my neck to see the way they shone in the bright sunlight. Everywhere people stood watching as we made our way to the lowering drawbridge.
false gods. It didn’t stop all the talk, though.” “She was just too perfect,” Yolande said. “We couldn’t believe she was real.” I laughed. “That’s so silly. Changelings have withered, dry skin and deformed limbs. They’re not beautiful at all.” They all seemed to gasp at once, and then burst into giggles, at my words. “You must not let Father Martin hear you speak of such things,” Yolande said. “The king does not care what Father Martin says,” Clareta said, turning to Yolande. “It’s true. He
massive work, with full figures and animals and clouds and fields. Only part of it had been painted. “What is it?” I asked. “A unicorn hunt,” he said, “designed and painted by one of the world’s masters.” “That’s him?” I asked. “Yes, the great Bernard Morel. And these are his helpers and apprentices. I’ve set up a studio for them here.” I walked farther in and focused more closely on the ceiling. The flank of the unicorn was already a glowing white, and slowly the scene came to life before
face. Never in my life had I felt the kind of power I felt right then. I was young and beautiful. I had all the magic of the forest at my fingertips. I was foolish, too; I understand this now, after so many years have passed, how I confused infatuation for true love, the power of beauty for real power in the world. “You came back,” I said. I whispered the words, and let the wind carry them to him. “I’ve been waiting for you.” “You were not at the ball.” “She locked me in this tower, to keep me
waving his hands in the air. “God is punishing all of us for the excesses. The feasts and balls, the extravagant clothing, the indulgences of the flesh.” He paused, ever so subtly. “Witchery.” I froze for a moment, as I reached for my wine, and looked at the faces of the court. Some had the decency to drop their eyes, others stared back at me without shame, not bothering to disguise the suspicion on their faces. Slowly, I took hold of the goblet and brought it to my mouth, determined not to let